Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

When memory sparks a daily occurence

Can I speak with the manageress?The voice on the phone was tense.

“That’s me, how can I help you?”

I knew at once that this would not be an easy conversation.A road accident prevention organisation does not have answers at the ready.

“My daughter has been killed in a road accident in Netanya.her boy friend was driving…he is OK”

“I will try to help you but we have to meet. Can you come to my office?”.

He put down the phone.

A few days later my husband and I ordered a taxi from our local cab company. While we were travelling the cab driver a handsome man around 40 looked in his mirror and said “I know your voice,you are the lady from Metuna,I called your office,it was you wasn’t it”?

My english accent must have been the give away.I knew at once whom he was.

Shortly afterwards,I went to visit the family.It was after the 7 days of mourning but before the date for the setting of the tombstone.

I sat down on the comfortable cream coloured couch in the salon and leaned back on the colourful cushions, to try to conjur what I was about to hear.

The mother  was completely emotionally wrecked. She offered me some tea and we then we sat together looking at the album of family pictures, in which her beautiful daughter featured prominently.

She was sixteen years of age, their firstborn child  followed by two brothers. Her mother told me that she had gone on a date with her boyfriend son of a prominent businessman, in his brand new Mazda.

It  was reported that he had been speeding along the sea road and had swerved into the curb of a lay by.

As we spoke I noticed a young man who was seemingly not one of  her sons, pacing up and down in the hallway.He seemed distressed.

I asked quietly who he was. To my surprise she answered”He is the boy”

I took a deep breath.”Why is he here?” “Because he loved her and she loved him and that’s all I have left.”

That was the first time in all my years of experience in this field that I had encountered such a situation.Yet I could understand it because I had lost a son and always found  consolation in being with his friends,after he died.

The trial proceedings had not yet started but the family had legal representation, so there was not much I could do.The young man received a relatively light sentence and the parents suspected that there had been some influence on the outcome. Their feelings for the young man changed but even so, they had no strength to demand compensation from the family.

Sometime later they asked the Municipality if they could erect an environmental statue at the place where their daughter had been killed. They refused but after a fight in which I was involved,  a statue was erected in a children’s play ground near to where the family lived.

It is an angel sitting under a tree.

A year after her death our organisation invited the family to be guests of honour at a fund raising concert in Netanya Cultural Centre.  One of her brothers told her story and then a neighbour who was a religious man, said a few words:

“She would knock on my door when she needed some help with her homework or  to borrow something for her mother. I will never forget her  for when she walked through the door I would smell the fragrance of  shampoo on her newly washed hair.” .

These days when road deaths are on the rise one questions the efforts and enormous investment made by “Or Yarok” the dominant organisation which has replaced all others. One questions too the government policy on this issue which daily affects our lives and is responsible for more unnecesary deaths than terrorism or wars.

Minister Bennett brushed aside the fear  currently permeating our society, that death  can come at any time from terrorism.  He inferred that more die on the roads. How trite. Loss of Israeli citizens’ lives, has never been a priority.  Loss of one child to a family,is the world.

Founder with other wonderful dedicated people of Metuna-the organisation for road death and injury prevention.Recipient of the Knesset Prize for Quality of life.






About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.